Interview with Askoll HR Director: Mario Bassini

ScienceForWork shares the contribution of scientific research  in the field of organizational psychology and personnel management with HR professionals, managers and consultants. Evidence-Based Management is the driving vision of ScienceForWork. We believe in the added value obtained by matching research and daily HR Management.   

Mario Bassini, we would like to let you to introduce your professional profile and experience first.

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I’d like to introduce myself as an enthusiastic professional at the service of people and organizations, a domain today named “Human Resources”. After over 25 years of fair career, I can say that I saw many things and I worked in extremely variegated contexts: from the big multinational enterprise to the little family-run business, from the local public service corporation to the family pocked-sized multinational, from management consulting to training. I had the chance to learn a lot and live intense and rich experiences.

I haven’t depleted my energy yet and I continue to find this situation attractive and motivating as well as propaedeutic to further learning.

How does an organization with strong international vocation identify the value of human resources?

I believe that the trend towards the internalization is a necessity in our globalized context and in a very crowded area as Italy and Europe. Thus, the value of human resources, that coexists with these situations, consists in “throwing the heart beyond the hedge of your own garden”, finding that it will be possible to exercise your own professionalism, credibility and prestige throughout the world, if you are able to learn from and share your own knowledge and experiences. Foresight is what let us learn a job, because this is an absolute guarantee: if you learn a job, it will be very difficult to remain unemployed. And this is true for all the organizations where I had the chance and the pleasure to work. When you cross the comfortable limits of your home, this credibility is essential.

Organizations with less people but more competencies: how can this result be obtained?

Simply by capitalizing on people’s will and curiosity to learn: if we are specialists, we do it by building up the vertical profile of our competency, ranging from operative processes to the more strategic ones; if we prefer polivalency, by gradually extending our horizons without forgetting the core points of our growth. Not having enough time is indeed a risk, and time pressure may lead to trivialize some phases but, if you can find the right balance, results will come both for individuals and organizations. On the other hand reducing the number of people is a matter of survival: therefore it is essential to choose the right people, because there’s no possibility to compensate the poor quality of available resources.

What role do human resources have when opening to a new market? How do you make sure to obtain the required competencies, through new hiring or training, or both? How do you manage this process?

I don’t know for how many years I’ve been hearing that human resources have a pivotal role: then when you deal with reality you begin doubting. When you are not useful anymore, you often feel like used and just thrown away. Nevertheless, if these difficult years have taught us something, is that the central role of people saved the context. Those who actually “have practiced” this concept, have survived and can compete for the future; while those who haven’t practiced what they had preached, in my opinion, have failed long time ago because the third millennium market forgives less than the past one.

New competences can be searched in the market, which is often a difficult and expensive issue, or they can be developed internally, or both. It is clear that the internal development implies a prior work (and, from this point of view, our capability to plan over time people development is sometimes quite disorganized and rough), time and method. The management of this process, that I have seen many times, has always been definitely perfectible. But fortunately I have never met contexts where you seek outside without a previous and accurate check of what is available inside. Seeking outside is often an unavoidable necessity, especially when you are looking for unexplored and new business or new activities and you need to accelerate the steps of the development. Anyway, the new competence needs time to take root in the context where it is inserted: maybe less time than what needed to allow an internal development; this often explains why it is considered better to seek outside.

According to your experience, what role may a work psychologist play in a multinational company like yours?

Given the previous discussion, the role of a psychologist is ample and rich: the psychological profile of people and organizations can make these latter ones successful or not. Rivers of ink were devoted in writing about emotional intelligence. More and more, the psychological, behavioural and motivational dimensions of candidates are under the lenses – especially in these times, when stress about costs is so high. Interpersonal relations and organizational climate are always the most relevant issues for the organizational processes, as well as communication and negotiations. The psychological sensibility can make the difference in all these processes, fields and practical issues. However, an ideological prejudice draws the psychologists as a psychiatrist; more than one CEO, entrepreneur, or general director, say “we don’t need a psychologist, we are not sick!” In this sense, also his approach and the way he is able to gain value for his contribution is essential: good marketing is needed.

Inside Askoll, in which you are Head HR, how much decisions about personnel are based on data and evidences?

Askoll is a technocratic and engineer-like firm: data and evidences are essential. We care about the relationships with our international clients. We also care about the quality of products with spasmodic attitude, as we continuously strive for new rooms of improvement and for keeping our profit margin high. It’s a pity that this attitude fades in personnel decisions: we could surely improve in performance evaluation, while we have relevant analytical skills in compensations and budgeting.

Would you like to give a message or a free contribution to students and professionals in the HR field that read or visit ScienceForWork?

Not a contribution, but an exhortation and a wish: to promote the comparison of information and experiences and make them circulate. Putting them together in ScienceForWork means offering assets to the professional community and different kind of users. This work is enriched only if nourished with new contributions, while it would be unuseful if kept closed in our minds. I suggest youngsters to give priority to their own curiosity and chances to cut their teeth; for those a bit “vintage” like me, I recommend to focus on rethinking about yourself everyday, even though you lived many “campaign”. Finally, I wish everybody feel that what you do it is something that generates value and trust.

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